Agents urged to hit the road

The Visit USA Association is encouraging agents to sign up for this autumn’s series of UK roadshows.

VUSA

The popular events, designed to mix knowledge-gaining, networking and some after-work fun, are scheduled for Edinburgh (October 3), Liverpool (October 4) and Reading (October 5).

All three roadshows will be held in premium hotels – The Principal (Edinburgh), Crowne Plaza (Liverpool) and Pentahotel (Reading.) More than 30 Visit USA members will be on hand to exchange information and discuss destination and product updates with attending agents.

The format of each evening will see the agents visiting all the exhibitors. There will be food and drink and every agent will have a chance of winning a goody bag and fabulous USA holiday at EACH of the three roadshow stops.

“Our roadshows offer a great opportunity for members and agents to meet face-to face on evenings that are all about education, training and industry networking,” commented Tracey Spuyman, CEO, Visit USA (UK).

“Agents who attend could also find themselves and a partner looking forward to a fabulous holiday in the USA,” she added.

Agents interested in being part of the Edinburgh, Liverpool or Reading events can sign up at:

visitusaroadshow.com

Heathrow-Denver United again

United Airlines is to launch a non-stop service between Heathrow and Denver next summer, a route it last flew in 2010.

Denver

The seasonal service to its Colorado hub will commence on March 25 and cease on October 27.

Flights will depart Heathrow daily at 11.40, arriving in Denver at 14.30. The return flight will depart Denver at 17.35, arriving in London at 9.40 the following day.

It will be operated by a B787-8 Dreamliner aircraft, with 36 flatbed seats in United Polaris Business class, 70 Economy Plus seats and 183 seats in Economy.

“This new flight will strengthen our international route network and provide our UK customers with a non-stop service to one of our key hubs,” said Bob Schumacher, United’s Managing Director Sales UK & Ireland.

“Our customers will benefit from additional connections via our Denver hub to points across the U.S. as well as popular destinations in and around Colorado and neighbouring states.”

More than 130 destinations across the U.S. are served from Denver.

From Heathrow, United currently operates up to 17 flights a day to six U.S. hubs: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.

It also flies from Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham to New York, and on a seasonal basis from Edinburgh to Chicago and from Glasgow to New York.

united.com

Duchess set for Mississippi

The American Queen Steamboat Company’s (AQSC) latest vessel will arrive on the Mississippi this month.

Dutchess

The new all-suite 166-guest American Duchess is in New Orleans and will undergo final preparations before her August 14 inaugural sailing.

The luxurious paddlewheeler will join the American Queen and American Empress as the third vessel operated by the riverboat company.

American Duchess will cruise the Mississippi and its tributaries.

New for the line, the ship will offer overnight stays in port, including Nashville, as well as shorter round-trip itineraries from the ‘Music City’ and New Orleans.

Guests can also enjoy departures from Chicago (Ottawa, Illinois) for the first time.

Featuring open seating with two dining venues, The Grand Dining Room and The Grill Room, it will offer regionally inspired cuisine similar to that of the American Queen.

Rupert Thomson, Managing Director of Light Blue Travel, which handles all UK, Ireland & European sales and marketing for AQSC said: “We’re very pleased with the interest we have received from the UK & Europe in US river cruising - it really is something different. It was clear we needed more capacity on the Mississippi and we welcome the Duchess to the AQSC portfolio. Saying that it, is fully booked until October so we have no availability before then!”

AmericanQueenSteamboatCompany.com
sales@lightbluetravel.co.uk

On Location with comic stars

On Location Tours has launched a new bus tour, The Super Tour of NYC, on which guests ‘meet’ some of their favourite comic book heroes.

On Location

The Avengers, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman and Jessica Jones are just some of the stars of a three-and-a-half-hour tour in New York that provides a behind-the-scenes look at over 40 ‘super sites’ in ‘Gotham’, where some of the most famous caped crusaders appeared in film and television.

Led by actors, the Super Tour kicks off at Midtown Comics. From there, participants ‘fly’ to the building used as The Daily Planet in Superman: The Movie; see where the Battle of New York (featuring Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Incredible Hulk) took place in The Avengers; spot the New York Stock Exchange where Batman battled Bane in The Dark Knight Rises; catch a glimpse of the police department where Jim Gordon works in Gotham; zoom past Hogarth’s office featured in Netflix’s Jessica Jones and Iron Fist; take in the New York Public Library, where Uncle Ben gave his famous catchphrase to Peter Parker in Spider-Man; save New York City at the Statue of Liberty and Staten Island Ferry, as seen in X-Men, Superman II and the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming… and many others.

Tickets cost $49 and must be purchased in advance.

Other Big Apple tours offered by On Location Tours include a NYC TV & Movie Tour, Sex and the City Hotspots Tour, Sopranos Sites Tour, The Real Housewives of New York City Tour and When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour.

The company also runs a Boston Movie Mile walking tour.

www.onlocationtours.com

Mini trips a Grand Adventure

‘Mini’ three- and four-night wilderness adventure tours are selling strongly, says USA small group operator Grand American Adventures.

Grand Adventure

With the minimum age participation now eight years old, there has been a rise of families incorporating one of the four ‘Mini Adventures’ on offer into a city, beach or theme park holiday. Selling fast in 2017 is the Los Angeles to Grand Canyon Mini, with bookings up 94%.

“Over 2,000 travellers have enjoyed our ‘Minis’ during the last five years…. they allow them to take in the real ‘bucket list’ natural wonders of the USA, such as The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Monument Valley, and at a great price," commented Richard Hanson, Managing Director of Grand American Adventures.

“Although just a few nights long they are extremely well planned so offer a really immersive experience and with 70 guaranteed departures this year there is a date to suit most travel plans,” he added.

The four ‘Mini Adventure’ tours start from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York City, from £299pp.

Led by professional local expert tour leaders, and with quality private transportation and accommodation throughout, the tours are aimed at couples, families and single travellers.

The maximum group size is 13.

Grand American Adventures is the sister company to TrekAmerica.

grandamericanadventures.com

Eclipse will darken states

Those U.S. states in the ‘path’ of the country’s first total solar eclipse in 38 years are gearing up to welcome a rush of visitors.

Eclipse

On August 21 the line of totality - the passage where the sun can be seen completely eclipsed by the moon - will cross the country from Oregon to South Carolina, blanketing parts of 14 states in complete shadow for around two-and-a-half minutes.

There’s a packed calendar of events to mark the occasion across the U.S., including stargazing parties and observatory tours.

One of those states in the ‘path’ is Idaho, with Weiser, a town well known for its annual National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest, named by NASA as one of the top spots in America to view the eclipse. The Weiser Eclipse Festival will feature a pancake breakfast, star presentation, wine tasting and street carnival.

Although Craters of the Moon (pictured) is not directly in the path of totality, the National Monument & Preserve is partnering with the city of Arco, NASA and Idaho State University to provide a unique viewing opportunity in nearby Arco, Idaho. The Bottolfsen Park city park in Arco will offer an extraordinary setting from which to see the eclipse. Craters of the Moon – an out of this world experience in itself - will host many events and activities in the lead and follow up to the eclipse.

Although also not on the path of totality, visitors will still be able to see a 96% eclipse over one of the country’s iconic man-made monuments: Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

Further east, in Illinois the eclipse will reach its maximum duration – for two minutes and 41.6 seconds - over Makanda. This small village seven miles south of Carbondale in the hills of Shawnee National Forest will also be in the central path of the next total solar eclipse on April 2, 2024.

BA ready for Music City

British Airways is to launch a new service to Nashville next spring.

Nashville

The airline plans to operate a five-times-a-week flight between Heathrow and ‘America’s Music City’ from May, becoming the only airline flying direct between Europe and Tennessee’s capital.

The flights will run on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with the BA223 departing from Heathrow at 15.45 and arriving into Nashville Airport at 18:50, while the BA222 will leave Nashville at 20.20, arriving into London at 10.30 the next day.

Nashville is known for its more than 160 live music venues that host acts from country and blues to jazz and rock. It also has a thriving culinary and drink scene and is a popular stop on most Deep South itineraries, with Memphis, Baton Rouge and New Orleans all within easy reach as other must stops on ‘America's Music Highway’

The Heathrow-Nashville route will take the number of U.S. destinations the airline flies to from London in summer 2018 to 26, and the number of daily flights offered by British Airways and American Airlines as part of their transatlantic joint business up to 67 per day.

It will be operated by a Boeing 787-8, with return fares in World Traveller starting from £749, £1196 in World Traveller Plus and £1849 in Club World available to book now at:

batraveltrade.com